It’s that time of year again–Top 10 music lists are out in force, and everyone’s got their own best and worst songs to showcase their wonderful taste. Well, what if you could do both–have a best worst songs list? Yes, a celebration of guilty pleasures, of songs so bad they’re good–songs you have no excuse for liking and listening to over and over again. As a connoisseur of all things musically trashy and lowbrow, I present to you the 10 Best Terrible Songs of 2011. Read, intrepid audience; read, listen, and weep.
10. Korn (Featuring Skrillex) – “Narcissistic Cannibal”
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This is a decision so bad it had to time travel from 1998 to get here. Sure, Korn’s popularity may be lagging, but is that really a good reason to intentionally imitate Nine Inch Nails imitators like Filter or Stabbing Westward? Nu metal and electronica do not mix, especially toothless, uninspired, most-likely-merely-contractually-obligated nu metal and electronica. This one makes the #10 slot on the list because it’s mostly just bad, but since I’m not above tawdry dubstep, I usually at least make it to Skrillex’s breakdown after a few choruses.
9. Kreayshawn – “Gucci Gucci”
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Wait, what? White hipster chicks trying to act ghetto? No, Internet. Stop this. You know better. I know better. I should know better, but I can’t… stop… watching…
8. Insane Clown Posse – “Leck Mich Im Arsch”
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The Insane Clown Posse. Covering Mozart. Produced by Jack White. Need I say more? Hear the full version here. The only takeaway I have from this is what lengths mad genius Jack White will go to conjure even the smallest smidgen of artistic merit from the makers of “Miracles” and “Big Money Rustlas.” It appears “Leck Mich Im Arsch” was a fun way to resurrect this lesser-known scatological Mozart piece and grab attention for the release, whereas the single’s B-side, “Mountain Girl,” actually works by reining in ICP’s redneck rhapsodizing and shaping it into a whimsical modern-day bluegrass story song.
7. Britney Spears – “I Wanna Go”
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At thirty years old, Britney Spears could totally drop the teenage sexpot image and still have a vibrant career, right? Right? This is downright embarrassing. She still shapes her mouth to sing her vowels as baby sounds, the double entendre is as clumsy as Alec Baldwin on his iPhone–I would say I’m baffled why she would debase herself this way, but I’m sure it can be explained by the multitudinous digits printed on Ms. Spears’ paycheck. So why is this song so listenable? I’ll admit it; I like a lot of the production trends in Top 40 music right now–club music that’s gaudy, repetitive, loud, over-compressed, and unapologetic–the aural equivalent of B cinema. She may not be acting her age, but Britney’s being entirely honest about what she has to offer. The fact that its chorus shares the tiniest helix of musical DNA with Sufjan Stevens’ “Vesuvius” might have something to do with it, too, but maybe that’s just me desperately hanging onto a scrap of dignity.
6. Rebecca Black – “My Moment”
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“Friday” was the banal train wreck that rocketed Ms. Black from obscurity to national stardom, but it can be easily excused. It was a fluke, a vanity project probably pushed on her by disgusting stage parents, its dopey lyrics penned by the creepy opportunists running Ark Music Factory. “Friday” was an innocent song which pushed an innocent girl into a corrupt world; Black’s followup single “My Moment” is a tragic portrait of a young woman pursuing a fantastical dream while she comes of age, assailed simultaneously by the vitriol of the Internet and copious iTunes residuals. It’s beyond tragic, even… it’s downright menacing. She’s not just trying to get to school and have a good time anymore. She wants this fame. She wants to wear fancy dresses and walk the red carpet. She wants to sing to adoring crowds. And she wants to shove it right back in your face, you heckling riffraff. “I’m about to blow up,” she warns her “Friday” detractors–an ominous lyric from a California girl who, only three years old pre-9/11, would have been a vulnerable, impressionable young tyke for Al Qaeda to shape and mentor. Let’s have the DOJ keep an eye on this one.
5. Attack Attack! – “Smokahontas”
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This was technically released in 2010 on Attack Attack!’s self-titled album, but the video was released in early 2011, so I’m stretching the rules a bit here. Attack Attack! is infamous for popularizing the term “crabcore,” wherein a guitarist lowers his bottom to the same altitude as his knees and crabwalks. What caught my attention, though, was the bizarre fusion of hardcore screamo music (as hardcore as you’ll get from suburban middle-class white kids in Ohio, I imagine) and angsty, autotuned teen-pop techno. These people heard this before they released it, right? At least Korn just tacked on Skrillex’s synth drums and gurgle-bass to their existing sound instead of lurching back and forth between metal riffs and Yo Gabba Gabba hooks. Either they knowingly put out some of the most embarrassing rock music ever produced, or they truly lack the self-awareness to see how awful this is. Either way, my ears win, despite the pain.
4. CJ Fam – “Ordinary Pop Star”
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While some were content to let Rebecca Black’s “Friday” be their final exposure to Ark Music Factory, some of us dug deeper. While there were many worthy entries in this exploitative preteen pop genre, some from Ark and others not, nothing quite arouses the level of revulsion and shame as CJ Fam’s “Ordinary Pop Star.” Identified as 11 years old in another Ark Music Factory video, CJ delivers a tongue-in-cheek ode to the destructive downward spiral initiated by one’s entrance into the public eye that’s as trashy as it is catchy. What’s disturbing here is that Ms. Fam is proof that the entertainment industry, pushing for a younger audience (the only mass clientele they can still get), will exploit younger and younger children to achieve this, and nothing but a major child labor/molestation scandal will delay them. From the looks of how the Ark founders are eying that monitor with CJ Fam footage, it looks like it’ll happen sooner rather than later.
3. LMFAO – Everything
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It’s insufficient to post a single song from “party rockers” LMFAO. It’s more important to see them being “real” in an interview. Between their half-baked sentiments about creating true art, frat-boy ghetto affectations, and random scuffles with presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, these men are either pulling off the greatest piece of performance art in history, or… no. I have to stop myself. It’s just stupid. Extremely, extremely stupid.
2. Selena Gomez & The Scene – “Love You Like a Love Song”
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Rest in peace, similes. But then again, the gargly dubstep bass… I’m torn.
1. Big Freedia – “Y’all Get Back Now”
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Wait, how did this one even get on the list? This is just plain one of the best songs of 2011. Yeah, that’s right, haters, there is nothing to dislike about “Y’all Get Back Now.” Seriously. This is ’90s club-inspired, booty-shaking rap that is life affirming and heartwarming. This is about as basic as hip-hop can get–consisting of Freedia’s vocals, drums, bass, the occasional MIDI orchestral stab and air raid siren–and that’s all we need. The more sophisticated barely middlebrow among you may scoff, but hey, sometimes it’s perfectly fine to eat a Big Mac instead of filet mignon. If it’s got a danceable beat, goofy lyrics, and an infectious atmosphere of fun, you may be preventing yourself from loving it only for fear of feeling foolish.